The walk of faith
A lifestyle that hasn't changed in 4,000 years
That mysterious voice
Have you ever found yourself doing something that seems strange to you, but you just know that you're meant to be doing it? It might be a deal or something, it could even be a trip you're making but you just know it's right and you really can't explain it. If anyone asked you why you're doing it you can't explain it but you just know that it's right to be doing it.
You're not alone. Down through the ages there have been thousands of people like that, people who couldn't tell why they did or said the things they did, they just knew it was the right thing to do!
The Bible is full of people like that, people who heard the voice they would call the voice of God. He sounded different to each one of them, he told them to do some crazy things. Walking naked through the city was one, lying on his side for days on end eating only food cooked using cow dung for fuel was another, the stuff we would think was absolute nuts, yet they saw that someone was talking to them. For some it was flame of a burning bush, for others it was the awesome raw power of a pillar of fire, but for others it was that still quiet voice in their soul, yet all knew it was a voice that wasn't theirs. How?
Father of the faithful
Abram heard that 'voice'
What was it that made them realize that the 'voice' they were hearing was the voice of God? How did they know which 'voice' was the one they were to listen to?
Abram heard that 'voice' but we're never told what it was he first heard. All the others we get an idea, but not Abram. Elijah got the God who answers with fire, he also got the still small voice. Daniel had Angels sent to him. Moses had a burning bush and a pillar of fire, but we aren't told how God first spoke to Abram! He just started speaking and Abram knew it was him! (Read Genesis 12).
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.[a]
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”[b]
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring[c] I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
It wasn't him!
I love the story of Abram (I'm using that name as it's the name his father gave him and God didn't change it until he was pretty old!) as it resonates so much with me and the way some things have happened in my life.
But I've always wondered how he first heard the voice that he later recognized as being from God. The reason I'm talking about this is the Bible doesn't tell us what he heard or how he heard it! To me that is so relevant to today and the way God can sometimes deal with us.
How many times have things happened in your life that you just can't explain and you know you've done the right thing, but did God speak? or were you seemingly reacting to the situation at hand?
The last few days I've done a bit of 'digging' as it were to see if we can unearth a bit of what was going on when Abram set out.The first thing I noticed was it actually wasn't Abram that started it!
"Of course not" I hear you say "It was God right?" you might be saying. And you'd be wrong!!!
Take a look at Genesis 11 verses 27 through to the end.
27 This is the account of Terah’s family line.
Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. 28 While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. 29 Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah. 30 Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive.
31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.
32 Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.
It wasn't Abram started this, it was his Dad Terah. But we never hear of God speaking to Terah do we?
What was going on?
Terah and Abram's journey
Traditionally the site where Terah and Abram set off from.
Terah dies here. A few years later Abram gets told by God to finish the journey
Abram's destination. This is where he ends up 1,200 miles from his start point
Walking in faith
The last few days I tried to find out a little about what might be going on. The Bible doesn't tell us but that hasn't stopped the Ancient Rabbis coming up with ideas as to why he might make such a journey.
It turns out that Abram (according to them) might have been a bit of a vandal!! You see, according to the Jewish virtual library Terah was an idol maker and, well here's an excerpt from their site.
Abram tried to convince his father, Terach, of the folly of idol worship. One day, when Abram was left alone to mind the store, he took a hammer and smashed all of the idols except the largest one. He placed the hammer in the hand of the largest idol. When his father returned and asked what happened, Abram said, "The idols got into a fight, and the big one smashed all the other ones." His father said, "Don't be ridiculous. These idols have no life or power. They can't do anything." Abram replied, "Then why do you worship them?"
So Abram smashes the idols, and tries to show the folly of worshiping the idols by shifting the blame, when his bluff is called he shows father how dumb the idea was, but then because the rest of the village aren't happy they have to run for it! This story isn't in the Bible but I believe there is a very similar story in the Qur'an about Abram (if anyone knows if it is I'd be delighted if you'd let me know where in the Qur'an it is!)
Josephus tells it similar with the difference that instead of smashing the idols he sets fire to the building they are in and in the ensuing mayhem his brother Harran is killed trying to put the fire out. the result is the same that they have to flee for their lives.
Not the kind of things that a 'walk of faith' is expected to start with!
Stop and think.
Just take a minute to stop and think about all the things that have happened in your life. How many of them seemed bad, or sad at the time, yet if they hadn't happened would you have been in the position to hear when God did speak?
Maybe you've got a situation right now that you're asking God about, but there's no Angels coming to talk, or no pillar of fire. Just the humdrum or even worse. A few years ago we lost our house, at the time is was hard (dreams going down the drain) yet God was in the situation, we're just not sure what he was leading to. Yet Abram's walk (maybe) started with his family running for their lives!
Maybe the real point of the story is to see that everything we do is part of that 'walk of faith' and it doesn't require a degree in Theology or thorough knowledge of the Bible to take the first steps (or even any of the steps along the way). Not even a trust in God! Just a crying out
"God, Where are you?"
One of the best Movies on the subject.
That's just the start
Maybe there was a time when you wanted to be the great man or woman of God who'd really make a difference in this world! Maybe you just started with good intentions not even thinking about God but things haven't seemed to go to plan!
Did Abram start out thinking that he'd be a great man of God or a man who made a difference by running for his life because of an act of Vandalism! (even though the act may have been needed). Maybe he got sick of talking but didn't fully work out the consequences!
Maybe that's us to a tee. Like Abram, if we'll stop and take a look maybe we'll see that even doing those things was part of that 'walk of faith' we are on, it's just not the step we expected to take.
I suppose the point (or one of the points) is to see that no matter where we are, no matter how difficult it is to see God in the situation he's right there with us and he's directing our steps, but it would be good if we're paying attention to him!
Have you ever?
Have you ever wondered "what the heck is going on God?"
Keep on walking
Sometimes the vision can take years before god brings it to pass. It was years after Terah died that Abram heard the voice of God telling him to head out from Harran to the place where god would show him. He still didn't know where it was, he just knew that he had to go and it was Southwest of where he was living.
He would move from the Mighty Empire of the Hittites where he'd been living to the land of their mortal enemies, a land that was a borderland controlled by Egypt. He didn't know if that was the destination, but he did know he had to go to Canaan so he and all his family, basically most of the tribe of which he was the headman would head out on a journey that would take them out of where they knew, into an alien land and into the annals of History.
As we follow those footsteps we too head out into places we're unfamiliar with and out of the comfort zones we know into alien places, but just like Abram we also head out into the History books of Heaven where because of what we record in them when we get there we'll hear those words
"Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord"
I hope this hub has encouraged you to keep on going. If it has then leave me a note at the bottom, also if you any insights on what we mention then feel free to share them below.
want to check some things out
- Abraham | Jewish Virtual Library
Cyber encyclopedia of Jewish history and culture that covers everything from anti-Semitism to Zionism. It includes a glossary, bibliography of web sites and books, biographies, articles, original documents and much more!